Who Invented Foosball? – A Brief of Foosball History

Did you know? In Europe, foosball was first created as a way to play soccer indoors during the winter months when it was simply too chilly to venture outside.

Foosball or table soccer is a popular table game enjoyed by many people around the world. It is played on a table with miniature players attached to rods that are used to move the ball across the table. Foosball has become popular because it is fast-paced, exciting, and requires skill and strategy.

However, have you ever wondered who invented Foosball?

In this article, I’ll explore the history of Foosball, including its origin, how it has evolved over time, and its popularity today.

Here is a brief history of foosball and the person who invented it.

The Inventor of Foosball

Despite the various claims about the origins of foosball, the inventor of the modern foosball is generally recognized as being Harold Searles Thornton, an Englishman who patented the game in 1923. Thornton loved soccer and was passionate about creating a miniature version of the game that anyone, anywhere could enjoy. His design featured miniature players on metal rods, which could be rotated to kick the ball.

The Origins

There is a debate regarding the origins of foosball, as different countries have laid claim to inventing the game. Below are some of the proposed theories:

Germany: It is believed by some that foosball originated in Germany during the 1880s. The game was supposedly created to allow soccer enthusiasts to play indoors when the weather was too cold.

France: Others think that foosball came from France during the 1930s, and it was named “baby-foot” at first because players had to use their feet to play.

United Kingdom: Another proposes that people in the United Kingdom came up with foosball, which they called “table football,” and played it in local pubs and bars. It’s most commonly accepted.

One thing for sure is that it originated in Europe, and It was during this time a variety of table games were being created and played in pubs and bars across the continent. One of these games was called “table football,” which involved miniature figures attached to rods being moved around a table to score goals.


From a simple tabletop game to a competitive sport played around the world, foosball has come a long way.

Foosball became popular in pubs and bars, and people enjoyed playing it as a social activity. Over time, table football evolved into foosball, and it became increasingly popular in Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium, where it was known as “Kicker.”

In the 1920s, Harold Searles Thornton patented the first foosball table in England. His table featured miniature figures mounted on metal rods and a cork ball. Other inventors later improved this design, including Rene Pierre, who introduced a more durable plastic ball in the 1950s.

The foosball game kept getting more popular across Europe and eventually found its way to America.

Foosball was first introduced in America in the early 1950s. At first, it was mostly played in homes and college dormitories. However, in the 1970s, foosball became more popular when the foosball tournament was held in the US. From then on, foosball became a popular pastime in bars and arcades.

The Development of Professional Foosball

The rise of competitive foosball has played a key role in boosting its global appeal. Nowadays, there are various groups that arrange and endorse foosball contests and gatherings, such as the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) and USTSF.

People who play foosball professionally possess remarkable abilities and have the potential to make considerable amounts of money by participating in tournaments. They play foosball with customized tables and gear that are intended to boost their skills and enhance their likelihood of victory.

Table soccer has also been recognized by the Olympics, and there are efforts to include it in the Olympics in the future.

Professional foosball, as we know it today, owes its origins to E. Lee Peppard, a bar owner and foosball enthusiast from Missoula, Montana. Peppard is recognized as the person who transformed foosball into a serious sport. In 1975, he established the Quarter-Million Dollar Professional Foosball Tour, which was a traveling tournament that visited 32 cities throughout the United States. This event, which spanned 32 cities, offered lucrative prizes ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.

Notable Figures in Foosball

Amongst the community of foosball enthusiasts, Frederic Collignon of Belgium reigns supreme as one of the most outstanding players in the sport’s history.

Additionally, Tony Spredeman is another talented player who has claimed multiple world titles and is known for his relentless and rapid play style.

Alongside these exceptional players, other notable champions and competitors include Cindy Head, a multiple world champion hailing from the United States, Tommy Adkisson, a former world champion from Canada, and Francisco Javier Diaz, a Spanish player who has claimed multiple European Championships, cementing their names in the annals of foosball history.


While there have been variations of table football throughout history, it was Thornton’s version that popularized the game and laid the foundation for the modern-day foosball table.

Origins of foosball can be traced back over a century, with many people and places playing a role in its development. From Europe to the United States, foosball has made its way into the hearts and homes of countless individuals.

Harold Searles Thornton is credited with inventing foosball, and his creation has evolved into a beloved game enjoyed by millions around the world.

Golam Muktadir is a passionate sports fan and a dedicated movie buff. He has been writing about both topics for over a decade and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with his readers. Muktadir has a degree in journalism and has written for several well-known publications, including Surprise Sports.